Following my successful trip to RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2014, I couldn’t wait to go back again but was erring on the side of caution; would the first visit be the best? could it be topped? would I be disappointed? The 2nd visit would certainly have a lot to live up to!
The Show Gardens
The M&G Garden – The Retreat, designed by Jo Thompson (Silver Gilt)
I loved this garden. Vita Sackville-West’s writing room at Sissinghurst was the inspiration for the oak-framed building that was edged by a pond filled with water loving plants, I could just imagine myself sat here on a lazy Sunday afternoon listening to the insects going about their business. A wonderful selection of trees and exquisite planting finished this garden off beautifully.
The Homebase Garden – Urban Retreat, designed by Adam Frost (Gold)
I loved this garden for its concrete lines defining the borders and some of the paths and the way concrete contrasted with the curves of the cedar path and seating area. The planting was a great mix of colour, shape and height and designed to be wildlife friendly.
L’Occitane – A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse, designed by James Basson (Gold)
This garden was designed to reflect the renaissance of traditional plantations that supported the perfume industry in Grasse, France. The planting was designed to be aromatic to recreate the Provençal hillsides and the history of the perfume industry.
Morgan Stanley – Healthy Cities Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw (Gold)
“Within the design Chris has considered the mechanism of what makes a city healthy and, by definition, what creates a healthy community. The formal geometry of paths, hedges and walls symbolise the physical infrastructure of a community, while vibrant plants denote the social elements within as they are diverse in origin, colour and character but work together to form a successful community.”
What was not to like about this garden, it had everything. Beautiful box hedging, gorgeous planting with wonderful colours, I could potter about in it all day. After the show the entire garden was being transferred to to a community project in East London.
Al Barari Firm Management LLC – The Beauty of Islam, designed by Kamelia Bin Zaal (Silver Gilt)
“The Beauty of Islam is a garden designed to be a sanctuary in which to both relax and feel inspired. Four walls act as dividers within the garden, creating different rooms and enhancing the garden’s element of discovery with water flowing throughout. The wide variety of plants within the garden, including jasmine, rosemary and papyrus, represents the spread of Islam and Arab culture and the growth of the Arab empire through trade, most notably the Spice Route.”
I loved this garden for its hard white structures combined with simple yet slightly exotic (for the UK) planting all tied together with the flowing water. The garden had a tranquil, soothing feel about it. Personally, I thought it deserved a Gold.
This year the top prize of Best in Show went to The Laurent-Perrier Garden – Chatsworth Garden designed by Dan Pearson. Unfortunately for me it was constantly surrounded and I didn’t get the opportunity to get any decent images.
And yet again, I somehow managed to miss most of the Artisan Gardens and Fresh Gardens; the joys of being at the Show-ground for a limited amount of time!
Inside the Great Pavilion
The displays in the Great Pavilion didn’t disappoint either with stunning displays and arrangements throughout the tent.
I love all the attention to detail on all the exhibits. Whether its a garden display and the blending of plants to look as thought they have been in that spot forever and a day or the specialised nurseries and the precise arranging of the plants and flowers they are all of the highest calibre.
We bumped into Best in Show designer, Dan Pearson, taking a picture on his mobile of some vintage irises bred by artist and plantsman, Sir Cedric Morris. I wonder if he’s planning on using them in his next garden?
And of course, I couldn’t miss out a selection of my favourite cacti, succulents and carnivorous plant displays.
Alice in Wonderland
2015 saw several displays pay homage to the 150 year Anniversary Celebrations of the release of Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland.
The participants of RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year and Young Florist of the Year was to design and create a Fantasy Floral Tree inspired by Tulgey Wood. And the theme for RHS Chelsea Floristry College of 2015 was The Mad Hatter’s Teaparty.
Interflora also took their inspiration from Alice in Wonderland with a wonderful display of over-sized teapot and cups complete with jammy dodgers and cupcakes. Purple alliums, hydrangeas, orchids and stocks were among the many flowers in this dazzling and colourful display.
Outside, it was the bronze sculptures of Robert James that continued the theme.
I love to look at the sculpture and outdoor garden accessories and marvel at the way the displays reflect small areas of a garden and the attention to detail; some of them wouldn’t look out of place in today’s average sized garden.
Who would have thought we would bump into Medusa at Chelsea?
Hard at work, Monty and Joe.
It wouldn’t be RHS Chelsea without the locals popping in for a visit.
Was I disappointed? It seemed a little busier this year so I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get as close to the gardens as I would have liked and once again I managed to miss the smaller Artisan Gardens. But it’s such a fantastic experience that successfully manages to provide sufficient changes each year to keep you wanting more. Roll on 2016!